THE DIRECTOR of three payroll and book-keeping companies who stole over £250,000 to keep his business afloat by snaffling his employees’ tax and National Insurance Contributions (NICs) and failing to pay VAT bills has been jailed for two years.
For nearly seven years, Andrew Bettis, 43, of Saltcote Maltings, Heybridge Maldon, Essex, used the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) system to deduct Income Tax and NICs from his employees’ wages, but kept the money rather than pay it to HM Revenue and Customs.
Further investigations revealed that his VAT returns were also wrong and that he hadn’t paid employer NICs, instead using the money to buoy up his ailing businesses.
Paul Barton, HMRC’s assistant director, criminal investigation, said: “Andrew Bettis worked in the payroll industry and knew full well he was acting fraudulently. However, he shamelessly used his employees’ tax and National Insurance to fund his businesses. Tax was deducted and shown on payslips but the money was never handed over to HMRC. He also failed to pay the right VAT, giving him an unfair advantage over his competitors and other honest businesses who pay what is due.”
Bettis was the director of three companies based in Chelmsford, Essex that offered book-keeping and payroll services to local businesses. When HMRC officers visited the businesses to check their records they found that a number of VAT and PAYE returns had not been completed or contained wrong information. The ensuing probe revealed that Bettis had deducted PAYE and NICs from his employees between 2007 and 2014, but hadn’t paid a penny to HMRC.
Bettis was arrested and later charged on 15th May 2015 with eight counts of fraud and acting dishonestly by not sending HMRC the correct VAT and PAYE returns. He pleaded guilty to all the offences and was sentenced today at Chelmsford Crown Court to two years in prison and disqualified from being a company director for eight years.
On sentencing Bettis, Judge Turner said: “you behaved in a shameful fashion and abused your position”.
Confiscation will be sought to recover the proceeds of his crimes.
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